We, Their Parents
I read a hilarious Twitter post the other day:
A father commented how his kids could not fathom that Netflix used to come in the mail. This father’s children thought the company emailed the movies to viewers.
Logical thinking, I suppose, that all mail is electronic.
The kids had no idea that DVD’s arrived in the actual US Postal Service mail.
My kids would likely think the same thing. They are so entrenched in the various streaming services that they shudder when I switch our TV’s input to the antenna so I can catch some local news and weather.
Such is the contrast between digital natives (our children) and, as writer Steve Almond recently dubbed, digital immigrants (we, their parents).
While these digital natives came pre-wired to use technology as deftly as they do, I have noticed one tremendous upside: they are not as addicted to it as we are.
Here’s an example: our kids parent us on the use of mobile devices. Like the ads of the 1980’s where the kids caution their parents on the dangers of smoking, our kids remind us to put the phone down so we don’t ruin our health.
They nudge us to stop staring into the computer, or they will chide the use of social media and our reliance on certain apps.
They are drawing early conclusions that technology is there—that it will always be there—but that they will use it on their terms. They will self-regulate.
What our children unconsciously remind us of is moderation. Their early views of cell phone and social media and app usage are more or less the early warning signs that this pervasive thing must be limited so that our humanity can survive.
Such is the conundrum we digital immigrants face. We never had this stuff, so now we can’t get enough. Our digital native children have it anywhere anytime, and so they can walk away from it with ease.
Kind of like the decriminalization of marijuana happening all over the country. Erase the stigma and so flows responsible usage. At least, that’s the hope.
Cell phone usage isn’t illegal, but there is a stigma. My kids call it out with my wife and I all the time. It’s difficult when much of our livelihoods take place on those wretched devices.
But we’re getting better. We’re listening to our children. I’ve set downtime limits on my phone with a passcode that the kids set. My wife is no longer keeping her phone on her nightstand.
It’s all part of what the kids don’t even know their planning: an analog revolution. A return to innocence. For them, and us.